Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meatless Golumpki, or Stuffed Cabbage

Well, it's happened: just under one month back at work, and the germy kids have already gotten me sick.  I told myself all day yesterday that it was just allergies, but by night, I was a total mess.  Mark begged me to call out when, at 4 AM, I was still feverishly tossing and turning and snorting and "snarfling" (that's a word we use for the sounds Daisy makes; it pretty much sounds like a snarfle...).  I never call out, so this shows you how miserable I feel.  I slept all morning and now, fully drugged with ibuprofen and Benadryl, I feel good enough to sit up and tell you about these stuffed cabbage rolls.  Maybe reminiscing about these lovely little packages of deliciousness will make me feel all better!

This was one of the last meals I made right before the wedding, in what I call wedding crunch time.  Soon, all my time would be spent calling bus companies, tweaking seating charts, and doing all the crazy pre-wedding things.  Luckily, these stuffed cabbage rolls were pretty involved, so it helped to tide me over until life calmed down enough for me to get in the kitchen again!

I was pretty excited to see a vegetarian stuffed cabbage recipe on Pinterest.  I know my whole family loves the traditional kind, stuffed with meat, of course.  I also know that, while this recipe is called golumpki and is thus Polish, you can order it at Armenian restaurants, where they call it dolma.  As a soon-to-be-Armenian-housewife, I thought it would be a good recipe to try out!  Instead of meat, this recipe is full of vegetables, like tomatoes, celery, and roasted peppers.  The "meaty" texture is recreated by using both white and brown rices, as well as chopped walnuts.  Add to the party garlic, mint and basil, plus a homemade tomato sauce (they call it a tomato barbecue sauce, but I left out the liquid smoke!) to bake them all in... let's just say that this meal was a hit.  No one missed the meat, and everyone raved over how flavorful they were.  There are so many flavors, and so much salty, sweet, crunchy, soft action going on in there!

They weren't the quickest meals to make; you have to cook the cabbage and pull off each leaf, one at a time, rinse it off in cool water and set it on an upside down bowl to sit.  Then you make the filling, then the sauce, and then you roll the golumpkis and bake them.  But hey, this was July: I had time to do fun stuff like this back then!

I texted pictures of these little babies to Kaz, our own Polish expert.  He said they looked amazing and begged me to make them for him when he comes back to Massachusetts.  I'd say that's definitely a possibility :)

Please don't let the length of this recipe scare you.  They're worth it.


meatless golumpki, or stuffed cabbage
from Sharon's Meatless Mondays
makes 14 cabbage rolls

1 extra large cabbage, outer leaves removed and cored

for rice:
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

for filling:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced green pepper
1 cup diced onion
freshly ground pepper
1 cup diced sweet roasted red pepper
10 sun-dried tomatoes, diced (I used fresh tomatoes)
1 cup diced cooked cabbage (from the core you cut out of the cabbage)
1 cup walnut halves, crushed in bag till pulverized
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 cup water, divided

for tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mustard
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (I left this out)
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly grond black pepper


1)  Cook the rice first: combine water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to boil.  Add both rices.  Stir, return to boil, stir again, then cover tightly, reduce heat to low, and cook 40 - 50 minutes or till brown rice is tender.  Transfer to a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon brown sugar; stir to evenly distribute and fluff with spoon to aerate rice.

2) Cook the cabbage: Place cored cabbage in a large pot of water.  Don't salt.  Bring to boil, checking often to see when first leaf starts to pull away/loosen from the head.  Remove each leaf as it begins to separate.  Place each leaf in colander and rinse under cold water.  Take a small bowl and invert it into a larger bowl.  Place each leaf over the inside bowl like a crown.  Continue with rest of leaves.  Set aside till ready for use.  When you're done, you'll have a small ball of inner cabbage, not big enough for stuffed cabbage.  Remove from pot, drain, and dice 1 cup of 1/2 inch squares for this recipe.  Set aside.

3) Make filling: in a large skillet over medium heat, melt olive oil.  Add celery and green pepper, and sauté until partially wilted.  Add onion and roasted pepper, a little salt and pepper, and sauté until onion begins to soften.  Add sun-dried tomatoes, diced cabbage, walnuts, garlic powder, mint, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and water.  Stir well and cook till all veggies are soft.

4) Add veggie sauté to the rice mixture.  Mix well.  Add the additional 1 teaspoon salt, and mix well again.  Add additional 1/2 cup water, and mix well.

5) Make sauce: combine all sauce ingredients in a small skillet/saucepan.  Stir well, com over low heat for a few minutes, then turn heat off.

6) Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and then roll the golumpki: spoon about 1/2 cup of the sauce evenly onto the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Place a cabbage leaf on cutting board.  Place 1/3 cup or so or rice mixture onto middle of leaf.  Starting from the core end of the leaf, which should be closest to you, bring it up and over the rice, drawing it towards you, compacting it in the leaf, while tucking the lead under the rice as you draw it firmly towards you.  Begin to roll it forward, then bring up both sides of the leaf, not over the top, but in front of the cabbage bump like you're wrapping a package, then continue to roll forward until you're done.

7) Place in baking dish.  Do the same till the baking dish is full.  Spoon remaining sauce over cabbage rolls.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake in oven for 30 - 40 minutes or until bubbly.  remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer.    Serve immediately.

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